Today I am going to start a series of blog posts on what to do once you have finished writing your story, this is a vast topic and my aim is to help you through the process with a few guidelines on what you should be thinking about doing.
So you have written “the end” on your manuscript, a work that you have been piling your blood, sweat and tears into for the past weeks, months and even years. First let me congratulate you on doing something that many don’t manage to complete and that’s finalising your story. You are now one step closer to getting your voice and the voice of your characters heard. But what happens next? Where do you now turn to in order to make your dreams come true?
For a first time author this is a daunting task, even for the seasoned pro this can be a stressful time. You are not alone; there are thousands of other authors right where you are. So here are a few things that you need to look at once you have typed those final words.
- Re-read through your manuscript, edit and see where you can make improvements. (You will find parts that you have penned that will make you laugh, cry and even wonder if you were drinking when you decided to put that down on paper.)
- Once you are satisfied you have the best you can without the help of a fresh set of eyes, it’s time to turn to others for help. But where do you find it? Simple, for most of you, you will have people in your social network that you trust to give you their opinion. (We are not talking family and friends here; they are not a good way to see if your story has what it takes to make it in the big wide world.) Reach out and see if some of your connections will help by reading through and advising you or plotting, characters, storyline and flow issues. This is hard to do and not everyone will read your manuscript the same way you do. After all they are not all in your head, so make sure you try and select a variety of people that will critique your work and be honest about it. (Feeling scared yet?)
- So you have sent of your work to a few readers and you are pacing anxiously awaiting their verdict, cringing and stressing until that message with your work attached hits your inbox. What do you find? Now this can vary depending on the reader, their experience and how honest they feel they can be with you. Yes as much as it hurts and as much as it really does suck, those honest people that do not pull punches are the ones you need. Read through their comments and take notes of where they found holes. Maybe they gave suggestions or were confused on sections. Read it all, digest it, scream, shout and cry about it. But in the end all of these comments are going to make your work better.
- Finally, you have been through all of the returned work, read through the suggestions and dealt with your emotions. What next? Yes, next it’s time for you sit down and edit your work again. Make those changes and go through the book altering and adding/removing where needed. Believe me to this point will seem like a walk in the park compared to when you send it off to a publisher or an editor.
- You have made the changes and are happy with what you have done; it’s time to send it back to your readers. Even try and find a few new ones that haven’t seen the work for new advice and comments. Yes, now you return to step 3 and begin pacing again.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!